Likatola off to eSwatini Rugby Sevens Festival

Likatola off to eSwatini Rugby Sevens Festival

MASERU – Lesotho’s national rugby sevens team will be looking to cap an encouraging 2019 when it makes its debut at the Khan’sicala Rugby Sevens Festival in eSwatini this weekend.
The two-day showcase will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Malkerns Country Club in Mbabane and Lesotho’s Likatola will be amongst a field of teams from Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and hosts eSwatini.

Likatola will go into the tournament in high spirits after winning the Rugby Africa Southern Region Tournament in September in Mantšonyane.
That September tournament featured Mozambique and eSwatini and Lesotho emerged as champions after winning every game of the round-robin competition.
After that impressive showing Lesotho’s sevens team will be looking to make this weekend’s championship in eSwatini another positive step in its development since the side was established in 2017.
Seven-a-side rugby is the reduced version of the traditional 15-man game and it has grown in popularity due to its quick and exciting style.
Speed and pace has been Lesotho’s calling card over the past two years as it has progressed up Africa’s ranks.

In 2018 Likatola finished second at the Africa Rugby Southern Region Tournament when it was held in Burundi and three months ago Lesotho finished sixth out of 10 teams at the 2019 Zambia Sevens International Rugby Tournament. This weekend’s Khan’sicala Festival will now test Lesotho’s depth because head coach Morapeli Motaung has been forced to make five changes to the squad that triumphed in Mantšonyane because of work commitments of players.

Lebohang Nthako, Thulo Ralei, Bakoena Nkesi, Motheo Mokhothu and Lebatla Lebatla are the new faces in the team.
Motaung said the eSwatini tournament is another valuable learning opportunity.
“This is the first time we are attending the tournament, our aim is to grow this team and (Lesotho) rugby in general,” Motaung said.

“This team has grown a lot considering it was formed two years ago and we have been to Burundi and finished as runners up and won the tournament in Mantšonyane,” he added.
Lesotho’s good performances have led to more invitations to international tournaments which Motaung said is helpful because it keeps Likatola in competition and active.
“We are getting invited to tournaments and it is important we attend because we don’t get a lot of friendly matches,” Motaung said.
“Because of finances we don’t get to play friendly matches. We can use smaller tournaments like this one to prepare for bigger tournaments. We want to play as many as possible.”

Lesotho 7’s Team:
Kubutu Makhakhe, Kelello Linakane, Bokang Ncheke, Lebohang Nthako, Motheo Mokhothu (LDF), Lebatla Lebatla, Bakoena Nkesi (Maseru Warriors), Karabo Mphaki (Mabote Beavers), Thulo Ralei (Giants), Reatile Joele (NUL Spears), Amos Motaung (Bethlehem Oud-Skoliere, South Africa)
Coach: Morapeli Motaung
Assistant coach: Liteboho Mahase

Tlalane Phahla

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